While many of his devoted fans will be disappointed that May has left Fin MacLeod behind on Lewis for good - he explains in this interview why - Entry Island returns to many of the themes that informed the Lewis trilogy: a remote and scarely populated island where the claustrophobia of isolation and living at close quarters leaves few secrets hidden; a bruised detective determined to root out the truth, irrespective of personal cost; and finally the sense of the past reaching forward with its own secrets to claim a hold on the present.
Entry Island also features the time slip device May used to great effect in his previous work. In this instance his modern detective - Sime Mackenzie of the Quebec Sureté - travels to Entry Island in the Gulf of St Lawrence to investigate the murder of a local businessman. Mackenzie - as his name strongly suggests - is of Scottish descent, his forebears hailed from Lewis. This is the book's parallel story, a tale that unfolds fascinatingly we learn of his ancestor's forcible removal from the Hebrides as part of the 18th Century Highland clearances that followed the crushing of the Jacobite rebellion.
Both stories are compellingly told. Mackenzie arrives on Entry Island suffering from insomnia as a result of the break-up of his marriage, and May does a fine job of depicting a man on the edge. The prime suspect in the murder is Kirsty Cowell, the wife of the dead man, but as soon as Mackenzie meets her he feels an immediate bond with here - one that presents him with dangerously conflicted feelings as he treads a tightrope between his personal feelings and his duty to his superiors.
The historical thread gives a shocking and elemental description of an event I confess I was completely ignorant of, but is a stain as dark as any in British history - the violent ethnic cleansing carried out by landowners. This is history brilliantly brought to life.
The pulling together of the two stories is the key to the novel and not handled sensitively could have unpicked the entire thread. But May never takes a false step as he draws his novel to a stormy close.
Throughout Entry Island, May again shows his deep affinity with these tough unforgiving islands and their hardy inhabitants, and his depiction of the privations both of 18th Century Lewis and its Canadian counterpart is hugely evocative.
Another terrific outing from Peter May, and one that is sure to see his star rise still further.